By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Friday, April 25, Madison Rotary Club members visited Greenville Elementary School in a continuation of the Purple Pinkie Project, a fundraiser visiting local schools for Polio Plus, Rotary International’s ongoing global vaccination effort (since 1985) to eradicate the polio virus from the face of the planet.
In 1985, the crippling, sometimes fatal disease had already been eradicated from the U.S. for two or three decades, but it was still endemic in 125 other countries around the world. As of May 2013, only four countries remained on the endemic list: India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan.
The goal of total eradication is so close, but as long as wild poliovirus remains on the loose, as seen in recent alerts from the World Health Organization, the danger of the disease breaking out again is a scary possibility, especially with today’s highly mobile population and access to air travel to and fro.
The main hurdle to total eradication of the virus is getting enough funding
to buy the vaccines.
According to www.rotary.org/en/end-polio, as little as 60 cents will pay for one child’s vaccination, so every dollar raised by the Purple Pinkie Project is more than enough to give a child lifelong protection in countries where the threat still exists.
The Madison Rotary Club has already taken the Purple Pinkie Project to Pinetta Elementary, where students brought in $1 and had their pinkies dyed purple to show that they were helping another child in another part of the world live a life free of polio. Greenville Elementary was the next stop; after Greenville, the Rotary Purple Pinkie Team has plans to visit more local schools that wish to participate.
Rotary president Wayne Conger stated that Greenville Elementary’s principal, Valencia Barnes, and the rest of the staff “were extremely helpful and enthusiastic about our efforts and were fully involved in helping us.” Principal Barnes even provided dollar bills for children who wanted to participate in helping another child, but didn’t have the money.
The Greenville Purple Pinkie Project raised a total of $144, an amount Conger said was very significant for a small, rural school.
It is enough to buy vaccine for about 230 children.